Huawei abandons plans for PS1bn Cambridge research station

As the troubled Chinese telecoms giant winds up its UK presence, Huawei quietly abandoned plans to build a PS1bn Cambridge research station.

Huawei planned to construct cutting-edge facilities on the 500-acre site near the “Silicon Fen”, where it would have been possible to develop broadband technologies, microchips, and artificial intelligence software.

Despite a promise to complete the first phase by 2021, ground has not been broken on the site.

South Cambridgeshire councillors claim that their requests for information were met with silence. Planning permission for the site will expire in just over five months.

After concerns that Huawei’s equipment could pose a threat to national security, the Government stopped the apparent demise of the project.

Huawei purchased the Cambridge site in 2018 for PS37m and received planning permission in 2020. The original plan was to complete construction of the first phase by 2021.

Brian Milnes is a Sawston councillor who said that Huawei had “gone very quiet about the scheme” despite numerous attempts by him and others to get in touch with them.

Since the grant of planning permission, no activity has been observed on the site. Unless the company begins construction on the site, permission will expire August 2012.

Mr Miles stated that he had not been able to get a response from Huawei when he tried to contact him about the matter.

“It’s a shame because the development was generally received well here and that the company did a lot with the community.

“Unfortunately, political issues seem to have taken their toll. “The whole project appears to have come to an abrupt halt.”

Huawei stated that its review of the Cambridge campus is ongoing, but declined to state whether it plans to start work in the next five month.

A spokesperson for the organization added that they were aware of the status and had placed it under internal review during the pandemic.

Huawei claimed it couldn’t find any correspondence unanswered from Mr Milnes and others regarding the scheme.

The company claimed that the Cambridge investment was a “major financial vote of confidence” in the UK. This would place the country at the forefront of chip research.

Optoelectronics are used in fiber optic broadband cables and lasers. The R&D facility would have been primarily focused on optoelectronics. According to a planning application, the site would also have a facility for microchip wafer development.

After raising security concerns over Huawei’s links to the Chinese government, the US hit the company with a series of sanctions.

The UK’s National Security Council concluded that the crackdown had meant that Huawei’s safety could not be guaranteed.

Ministers declared the kit as “high-risk” and ordered that telecoms providers remove it from Britain’s 5G networks by 2020.

Between 2019 and 2021 the sales at Huawei’s British Division plunged from PS1.3bn down to PS481m, while the number here of employees has plummeted from 885 to 486 accounts reveal.

According to Companies House accounts, Binbing Xiao, the director of the company, stated that the company was now focusing its efforts on the sale of products that are not restricted… However, the business’s scale is likely to decrease due to the external environment.”